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Pitt Meadows group works to provide housing for the local Wood Duck habitats

Builds 65 nest boxes to replace the old and damaged waterfowl homes

A group founded by two locals to care for ducks, is celebrating their 10-year anniversary this year by building a whopping 65 new nest boxes.

The PittWaterfowlers group was founded in 2012 by Chris Bradford and Dan Otway, who at the time erected seven wood duck nest boxes in Pitt Marsh in 2013.

“One box was nested in by a Hooded Merganser, and some tree swallows nested in a couple other boxes,” reminisced Otway.

The project was initially funded by Bradford and Otway. Bradford was able to find plywood scraps on his work site and the local Pitt Meadows High School wood shop put together some boxes for the group. Gradually, the number of boxes went up to from seven boxed to 16, to 31, and 2021 that number reached over 130 next boxes. Otway also said that last year Cabelas Canada supported the project by supplying some essential products for the project.

“Our most recent nestbox build at Pitt Meadows Gun Club, had 12 volunteers that constructed 65 cedar Wood Duck nest boxes that will be used to replace older boxes or boxes damaged by bears. There will be some new boxes installed in Pitt Meadows too at the request of farmers in the area. We’ll have about 140 boxes in Pitt Meadows this year and hope our 40 per cent usage by ducks continues this year,” said Otway.

There are about 20 boxes installed along the Katzie Slough in Pitt Meadows where a healthy population of Wood Ducks and some Hooded Mergansers can be spotted. Occupancy along this area is about 80 per cent. There are also two boxes by the Kennedy Road pump station, and last year they were both nested in and one box even had two successful nestings, explained Otway.

In 2018, PittWaterfowlers received a donation of pine lumber from Ducks Unlimited. This lumber was delivered to Pitt Meadows Secondary wood shop and volunteers cut it into bundles for the students to construct nest boxes as well as the volunteers spending an evening in the shop getting boxes built for the project. These boxes replaced many of the early plywood boxes that had seen better days.

The initial years saw Bradford and Otway doing all the preparation and data collection. Today, the group has around 30 volunteers helping out with the project each spring. Many of these volunteers are Pitt Meadows Gunclub (PMGC) members and waterfowl hunters. Along with PMGC the project sees support from B.C. Ducks Unlimited, Kent Cartridge Canada, and the BC Nature Trust.

“Each spring the boxes are cleaned out, fresh wood chips from Otter Co-op are put into each box. The latest batch of cedar boxes will be used this year and in the future to replace old or damaged boxes. Ducks Unlimited interns and BC Nature Trust bring out their summer staff for late spring nestbox checks. It’s a great learning experience for students getting into the environmental field,” said Otway.

Volunteers also use cell phones to take photos inside of the boxes during data collection and there are a number of motion activated trail cameras in place to assist in monitoring the boxes.

“PittWaterfowlers has come a long way in 10 years and there’s lots to be excited about in the future!” said Otway.

ALSO READ: Scopes on crossbows, wireless trail cameras out in proposed changes to B.C. hunting regs

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Priyanka Ketkar

About the Author: Priyanka Ketkar

Priyanka Ketkar has been a journalist since 2011 with extensive experience in community-driven news writing, feature writing, and editing.
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